by Paul Bacon
Rotherham, United Kingdom
December 7, 2005
I only once dragged myself to a Mongolian hip-hop concert and when I did so I was bitterly disappointed. Two friends and I went to see the teen sensations Ice-Top, who despite drawing an impressive crowd were pretty poor.
One Mongolian band that really were worth taking note of though, were the veteran rockers Kharanga. A quintet of guys who had been playing together since just before the collapse of Communism, Kharanga knew how to put on a show.
We saw them at the UB Palace where they did a gig that lasted upwards of three hours. Even though all the songs were in Mongolian I was impressed. They fetched out some impressive guitar riffs and pounding drums that nearly took the roof of the venue.
Not only were Kharanga pretty good on their instruments, but they knew how to live the rock star lifestyle. On stage they were fully decked out in bandannas, leather pants and sunglasses and off it they tried their darndest to live up to the image.
The lead singer was often to be seen around Ulaan Baatar in a black shirt, a bandanna and the shiniest pair of leather trousers I had ever seen. Although I never actually found out his real name he was one of my very favorite Mongolians. I met him quite often in either Khanbrau (see separate section)or one of the local disco clubs. Almost every time I saw him he was hideously drunk and without fail he would always invite us to join. We soon found out that a night out with Kharanga usually involved a massive hangover the next day.
Through our many meetings with the singer he talked us through his life story, which was frighteningly to any number of rock stars in the west. He had been divorced three or four times, arrested for drug use (still pretty rare in Mongolia) and had kids dotted around the country. He truly managed to fill the rock star mould and I was just glad to have partied with him.
From journal City to Steppe in Mongolia